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Mobtown Beat

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Ben Claassen III

Higher Education, by the Buck

A scorecard "to compare schools based on a simple criteria"

The day after President Barack Obama promised to help control higher-education costs in his 2013 State of the Union address, one of the tools he promised—a scorecard “to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck”—went live on the White House website, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education College Affordability and Transparency Center.

By retrieving what it has to offer about 11 Baltimore-area colleges, a general bang-for-your-buck sense emerges. The five schools priced above $20,000 per year have higher graduation rates (average: 75 percent) and lower loan-default rates (average: 3 percent) than the other six, which have an average 38 percent graduation rate (not including University of Baltimore, for which data is not available) and an average loan-default rate of nearly 11 percent. Notably, Baltimore’s three historically black colleges (Morgan, Coppin, and Sojourner-Douglass) are all in the lower-cost bracket, but have a super-low average graduation rate (23 percent) and an extra-high average loan-default rate (16 percent). Thus, in Baltimore, paying more for college improves prospects of getting a degree and a career that’ll pay off the costs, while going to lower-cost colleges—especially historically black colleges—carries greater risks of getting neither.

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